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The primary objective of the APE programme is to conduct a measurement campaign over the Antarctic. The APE-GAIA (Airborne Polar Experiment - Geophysica Aircraft in Antarctica, Ushuaia, Argentina, September-October 1999) campaign will be dedicated to the study of the chemistry of the Antarctic stratosphere, with particular attention to the contributions of various chemical processes involved in the formation of the ozone hole, and to the interactions between the air masses of the vortex and those of the southern hemisphere middle latitudes.
The APE-GAIA campaign will be the first mission conducted on board a high altitude aircraft in the southern polar region carrying a complex
remote sensing scientific payload, considering that the 1987 AAOE (Airborne Antarctic Ozone Experiment) and 1994 ASHOE (Airborne Southern Hemisphere Ozone Experiment) campaigns conducted from Punta Arenas and Christchurch, respectively, with the U.S. ER-2 stratospheric aircraft, performed mainly in situ measurements.

The conversion of the Russian M55-Geophysica
aircraft into a research platform represents
the first opportunity offered to the European
scientific community for experiments on board
a high-altitude aircraft. The relevance of the
project is linked to the potential of this new
stratospheric laboratory, both for its capacity
of accommodating a different and
complementary scientific payload, and for its
high operational flexibility. These features,
together with the ability of cruising at an
altitude of 21 km, permit the study of
important issues in atmospheric science,
and offer new observation perspectives bound
to revolutionise the study of the interaction
between the troposphere and stratosphere.
(Courtesy of Myasishchev Design Bureau, MDB)